Lewis attacks 'mean spirit' of GOP in commencement speech
- Democratic Rep. John Lewis exhorted Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts graduates to “turn this society upside down” to combat what he deemed “a mean spirit in America.”
- Lewis never mentioned any politicians by name, but condemned anonymous "colleagues" in Congress for opposing him on issues like immigration reform.
Democratic Rep. John Lewis exhorted Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts graduates to “turn this society upside down” to combat what he deemed “a mean spirit in America.”
Lewis never directly mentioned any politicians by name in his 20 minute commencement address Saturday, instead bemoaning what he called “forces in America today that want to take us back to another place, another time.”
Lewis discussed his upbringing and involvement in the Civil Rights movement, comparing that time of “optimism” to the “mean spirit” that he believes prevails today.
“We have made a lot of progress, but we still have a distance to go,” Lewis stated to immense applause. “We’ve come too far, we’ve made too much progress, and we must not go back, we must go forward, as a nation, and as a people.”
“I’m convinced that some of those chickens I preached to in the 40’s and 50’s tended to listen to me much better than some of my colleagues listen to me today in the Congress,” he said. “As a matter of fact, some of those chickens were just a little more productive. At least they produce eggs.”
Lewis also called out the House Republican leadership on a number of issues, including immigration reform.
“It doesn’t make sense for millions and millions of people, including little children, to be living in fear in the United States of America,” he declared. “Set people on a path to citizenship.”
In closing, Lewis urged the graduating class to be a disruptive force against the status quo he had just described, saying he doesn’t want to see a return to the 1950’s.
“As you leave here…get in the way, get in trouble—good trouble, necessary trouble—and make some noise,” Lewis concluded. “Our country needs you now more than ever before. Turn this society upside down, to set it right side up.”
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